Fish aren’t biting? Check upstream


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There was a time when the local shopkeeper knew your name and knew you well enough to make the best recommendations. He knew you were fishing for trout and he knew the best lure to use. And if you didn’t know where to buy bait – you’d ask a neighbor for a recommendation.

In today’s internetworked global economy, companies may not know their customers as well as a local shopkeeper and could be missing out on opportunities to connect with potential customers “upstream.” Let me explain.

When potential customers/ customers go online and look for help, are you there? Do you provide resources and relevant education not just on your website, but via social media? This is about being a real resource, not selling. For example, if your customers don’t know what will solve their need, do you offer an online diagnostic? Do you engage in the social web and share free tools, education, videos and ideas?

Many people search the web outside of standard business hours. Which means that when your customer finds your content it must be clear (in customer language, no jargon) and it must stand alone (no need to talk to sales, no need to get special codes, no need to wait). If they can’t download and use your demo on their own, customers may just give up.

Waiting for customers to contact you shouldn’t be your only model. Create intentional steps in your communications/ marketing plan to engage potential customers during their research phase – not to sell, but to be of help.

Think about what your customers do upstream and how you can help.

  • Customers use search engines to find out solutions and who can help them. Use ‘Long Tail‘ keyword terms related to the customer’s problem you are solving. Web searches should lead people to content that’s easy to use and clear educational materials.
  • Customers looking for answers also use discussion forums, blogs, Twitter, YouTube and other social media. From there they are guided by the web community into next steps (resources, companies, free tools). Look into what is already being offered in these communities around your solution area. What can you provide that would be unique and valuable?
  • During their internet searches, customers often come across messages you don’t control and perhaps you haven’t even seen. Get active and visible in social media. Not just pushing your messages on your Facebook page, but listening, responding and engaging on the platform preferred by your customers. Think about Twitter, forums and blogs (post comments) to get started.

When you provide value to potential customers during their upstream search you are more likely to catch some fish (a.k.a. customers) over time.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Kim Proctor
Kim has a passion for improving the customer experience and loves the online space. Having spent most of her career on the web, Kim is a consultant that knows how to grow web traffic, leverage social media and grow deeper customer relationships. She has consulted for a wide range of companies from small business to the Fortune 500. For more info, see


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